Teamwork would be an appropriate “fifth buzzword” in Nathan Harden’s recent Minding the Campus essay. Training students for future success with “all for one and one for all” class projects is as ubiquitous on campus as diversity courses and tolerance seminars. Yet, as Carol Iannone noted in her PBC post last week, having students working together in class to achieve synergies in their learning is finally being exposed for the Potemkin Village that it is. I also wrote on this subject last year in an NAS essay where I argued that I will not assign team projects in my classes anymore because of their ineffectiveness in enhancing learning.
The students are wising up to this as well. I can count the students who admit to positive team-project experiences in class on one hand. Note that I said “in class.” Students do have opportunities to have successful team experiences on sports teams and in student organizations where the desired output is not an individual GPA. In both those situations, students also have the luxury of adult advisers who coach them on how to work as a team — something that also rarely happens in the classroom.